Monday, October 25, 2010

We have the plan, but give us the dollars

The Pacific Voyage Media Team 26 October Nagoya Japan -

L - R Joe Aitaro (Palau) with Dr. Spencer Thomas of SIDS

Pacific island countries remain adamant a new Strategic Plan to protect the environment will be adopted on Friday at the end of the 10th Meeting of Conference of the Parties (COP10) to the Convention of Biological Diversity (CBD), in Nagoya.

Joe Aitaro, of Palau and one of the key negotiators for the Pacific, said progress was slow especially in the area of funding.

 “We’re here, we’re all very passionate and we still have hope that we’re going to reach an agreement on Friday,” he said.

“If not, word is that the Chairman will start an inter-government working group to work on those minor details and then present it back [to the parties].

“So there is still hope for us. But it will be a nice message when we go back to the world, especially in the year of Biodiversity that we came up with an agreement in Nagoya.”

Such an agreement will be crucial “to determine the future of life on earth.”

Mr Aitaro said funding is among the sensitive issues.

“The developing partners are saying they’re not quite sure as how, what type of capacity we need and how it’s being funded,” he said.

“So they’re coming up with a lot of ‘add-ons’ like we should have a plan for a plan to implement the plan.
“We’re saying, we already have a plan, just give us the funds and we’ll implement the plan. At the end of the day, it’s the will of the people with the dollars. If they want to make sure we achieve the concept and the goals of this convention, they should actually start funding these activities.”
Small island countries have been at the end of the line, Mr Aitaro said.

“We have been making a lot of impact on island biodiversity especially conservation management so it’s time they need to shift their paradigm thinking and look at successful countries in the Pacific.”       

Biodiversity progress in the Pacific has been slow. But Mr Aitaro said a lot of the progress depends on funding.

“For the Pacific, when it comes to the targets for protected areas in the marine, we want to see more ambitious targets set by our partners,” he said. “Globally it’s like only 1.7percent of the marine is conserved, yet we in the Pacific, when we look at it as a group in the Oceania, we have the most in terms of percentage that’s already in the MPA (Marine Protected Areas).

That’s a testament that we’re doing more with less and yet countries with the technology and resources cannot seem to mobilise [their resources] in the marine area.”

The discussions about access and benefit sharing are extremely important to the Pacific, said Mr Aitaro. 

“It’s time where countries need to make some sacrifices and compromise,” he said. “How long can this thing continue to drag? It’s been two years now, we’ve got to put a stop to it. It comes down to compliance and for the Pacific it’s our sovereign right, the ownership of these genetic resources.”

Mr Aitaro said Pacific delegates are happy with the progress on marine coastal issues.

“We’ve got good representation in there so it’s moving along but at a slow pace,” he said.
“The Pacific’s voice is being heard in these contact groups and it’s a good indication for me that we are well represented in our areas.”

Gaining financial support, however, is a priority.

In all the quarters, everyone is looking for somewhere to either get support from these private organisations or funding agencies to try and advance what’s happening,” he said.

“All indications coming in right now is that they are going to continue the level of funding for the CBD which to us is kind of ironic because now we’re talking about ABS and no funding.
“For us, there is a lot issues that depend on other countries and their interest.

“We want activities; we want the secretariat to fund activities on the ground that we have already started. We just need a little help to reach the visions of our countries.” 

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